Football

Fabregas' class will win Chelsea the title

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Cesc Fabregas has been a revelation for Chelsea ever since his arrival from Barcelona in the summer. His calm persona and immense eye for a pass have helped what has been a sometimes unbalanced Blues midfield settle and grow. 

The Spaniard is set to return for Wednesday's game against Everton at Stamford Bridge after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury, yet even without him Chelsea have managed to extend their lead at the top of the table.

Everything seems to have fallen into place for the west London club, with manager Jose Mourinho managing to accumulate over £100million selling players he didn't see fitting his system and replacing them with genuine game-changers. 

David Luiz, Romelu Lukaku, Juan Mata, Andre Schurrle and Ryan Bertrand all made way for Fabregas, free-scoring Diego Costa and new signing Juan Cuadrado. Even youngster Kurt Zouma has returned from St Etienne and added strength to the back-line. 

It's made Chelsea into a ruthless monster. Swallowing teams up at the Bridge and spitting them back out more times than not. Even when Manchester City visited the capital at the end of January needing victory to firmly re-establish themselves in the title race, they could not fully penetrate a Chelsea midfield lacking Fabregas.

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Nevertheless, the 27-year-old's performances are the true reason why the Blues are marching towards their fourth title in ten years. Costa has been magnificent and Eden Hazard has arguably become the third best player in the world but Fabregas has helped the midfield become the most secure in the league.

Rebalance 

A lack of balance in the heart of the midfield was one of the reasons why Chelsea's title challenge petered out towards the end of last season. Mourinho's first home defeat as Chelsea manager to Sunderland followed by a goalless draw against Norwich highlighted the need for some stability in the centre of the pitch, but at the same time creativity was also key.

David Luiz occasionally played as a defensive midfielder but sometimes had the attention span of a five-year-old leading to serious exposure of the defence, something that became incredibly apparent in Brazil's 1-7 defeat to Germany in the World Cup semi-final. 

Ramires had incredible stamina and the touch of class - his goal against Barcelona at the Nou Camp to give Chelsea a lifeline on their way to winning the 2012 Champions League was an example of that - yet this class did not always shine through. Mourinho knew something had to change. He needed a link in midfield.

Perfect fit

After Fabregas signed in the summer, he told the Express: "He is the kind of player we need.

"Not just for his qualities as a player but also his competitive personality.

"He is a player in the best years of his career. He knows England well, he knows the Premiership well, so he will not need time to adapt.

"I think he is the kind of player who will come and train for a couple of weeks and be ready to prove himself.

The addition of the ex-Arsenal man alongside Nemanja Matic has given the Blues a solid core and the ability to provide a killer pass to their ever-expanding array of attacking talent. 

An 80% tackle success rate alongside a 86% pass success rate for Fabregas highlights just why Chelsea are currently seven points clear at the top of the table. And the small matter of the fact he has 19 assists in 31 games. 

Barcelona era

This from a player who Pep Guardiola felt couldn't fully grasp how he wanted his Barcelona team to tick round him. Guardiola wanted Fabregas to become a metronome of passing like Xavi and Iniesta. Yet Fabregas wanted to be pushed further forward, to recreate his Arsenal glory days by sitting just behind the striker. Only problem was there was a certain Lionel Messi already playing there.

Tata Martino then gave him free license to roam when he took over as manager and by occasionally dropping deeper to get involved there was a realisation that he could return to the defensive midfielder he was when signed by Arsenal as a youngster. 

With Oscar, Willian, Hazard and now Cuadrado able to occupy attacking midfield positions, Fabregas has settled into his role with ease, even if some sceptics may feel he is going to waste not playing in the no.10 role. 

If Chelsea do go on to win the title Fabregas will surely be nominated for Player of the Season.

If you think it should be Costa just remember one thing - he can only score when given the ball. And more often than not it's Cesc Fabregas who gives it him.

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Topics:
Francesc Fabregas
Football
Premier League
Chelsea

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